We have recently been doing a series on Holiness at our church and I wanted to share some of the encouraging and practical things I have learnt through it, I hope it is of as much encouragement and spurring on to you as it has been to me.
What is holiness?
Holiness is what happens when something or someone is made holy, certain special items in the Old Testament temple were made holy by being set apart and having God’s name put on them. Similarly when we become Christians we are set apart and have God’s name put on us.
We have become a new holy creation and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God has chosen us, Jesus has cleansed us with his blood and the Holy Spirit has claimed us through his indwelling presence in us. I am so encouraged by this! It is mind-boggling to think that God has picked us and set us apart and we have the Holy Spirit living within us!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17 Paul talks about this, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” he goes into more encouraging detail in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 1, “And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Why are we holy?
The short answer to why we are holy is that God felt like it. The longer answer is that out of God’s great goodness and kindness he chose to make a people for himself for no other reason than because he loves and wanted to do it. We did not do anything worthy of God choosing us to be part of his special people and he chose us to be his people before the foundation of the world!
Sometimes I just sit and think about how amazing it is that God picked me to believe and trust in him, come to know him, and get to spend eternity with him! He did not need to but he did!! There’s nothing special about me but he picked me just because of his amazing love!
In Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3-4 Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” He also writes in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-9, ““For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
How are we holy?
As Christians we are distinct from society (or at least we should be) and it is very important to follow God’s teaching on morality and how to live life the way he set it up to be lived but our distinctiveness should not come firstly from our morality but from the amazing fact that we can approach God as his children, that we sit under his word, and that we worship him as a church community.
We should not apologise for being distinct from society nor try and compromise our obedience to God to fit in or be more appealing. As society moves further and further away from God’s way of living especially in regards to sexual ethics, the inherent value and dignity of human life, and the importance of giving oneself for others we need to maintain our distinctiveness.
We must be loving, and winsome, but we cannot substitute God’s truth for popularity or compromise our Christian values to fit in. As Peter says in 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Learning about holiness recently has again impressed upon me the amazing privilege of being chosen and the challenge of being holy in a world that is dark. Let us together strive on with the wonderful assurance that God has made us holy and will build us up in him as we live out that identity and grow more and more like him as we engage in his world and wait for his return!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrapbooking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.